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Is it really illegal to have a homebirth in New York State?

When I became pregnant with my first child, Evalee (now 3) I was told that home births were essentially illegal in New York State. A very dear friend of mine who is also an nurse told me this awful story…

Back in the early nineties (I think) a young couple were planning a home birth with their OB/GYN. The pregnancy was going along just fine but at about 36 weeks or so the OB saw something that was cause for concern. He advised the couple against having a home birth. The couple wanted to have the home birth anyway and the OB respected their wishes.

Long story short, their were complications and the baby was lost. I do not know the specifics but what I do know is that the couple then sued the OB, won the suit and he (the OB) lost everything.

Shortly after this incident, New York State passed a law stating that any OB or Midwife that performed and home birth were in danger of losing their license.

This is why so many are under the impression that it is ‘illegal” to have a home birth in New York State.

The truth of the matter is that any OB or Midwife  (CNM) can perform a home birth, they just run the risk of a lawsuit if something goes wrong, a risk that very few are willing to take. Now, granted, any OB or Midwife can get sued but if they practice within an office and in a hospital they must carry malpractice insurance. This insurance protects them from any lawsuit and naturally is quite expensive.

This is why it is so hard to find OB’s or CNM (Certified Nurse Midwives) to attend and support a home birth. Either they are too scared (understandably so) to do so without the proper insurance or they can’t afford to maintain the policy as an independent.

Fortunately, I have been able to find (after some serious digging) a CNM who is willing and able to support and attend our home birth. We are expecting our second child in mid December and are very excited to be able to have our baby in the comfort of our own home.

I want to clarify that this will NOT be an un-assisted or “free” birth. I have had pre-natal care and will continue to do so through out my pregnancy. I also plan to have a second ultrasound at 30 weeks or so to make sure that the placenta is in a good position and that everything “looks good”.

I will also have an emergency plan in place in the event that things take a turn for the worse during our birth. I have complete faith in my CNM, who has been a nurse since the late 70’s and a CNM since 1993 attending over 1500 births. I also have the support of my OB/GYN/CNM group practice that we used for our first child. They are willing to be our “back-up” if we decide to transfer to the hospital.

Home births are very common in other countries such as England, Denmark, Ireland and France all with remarkable results of happy, healthy babies and moms. BUT, they are all attended by professional midwives and nothing is taken for granted.

If you are considering a home birth, good for you. Just be smart about it and be prepared.

As always, I am here to help in any way that I can. Please feel free to email me or leave a comment below.

3 Responsesto “Is it really illegal to have a homebirth in New York State?”

  1. […] Originally Posted by Ashley8806 No there is someone to help – the midwife just has to have a certain level of education. There are 3 levels here apparently. It would be illegal for a certain level of midwife to assist a homebirth, but not another level. It's a higher education and more training deal – they have to have a certain level of education to assist a homebirth. Yes but I believe that's the case in only some states. In new York I know its illegal for a mw to attend a gomebirth or do any prenatal and poatnatal care. Not necessarily illegal – just rare. this is what I found http://greenmomhappymom.com/homebirt…ew-york-state/ […]

  2. I am a CNM providing home birth services in Central NY.

  3. Jess Ray says:

    Jasmine,

    Where are you located? I can ask my midwife if she knows of anyone close to you…if you are more comfortable you can send me the info private email to jray1175@gmail.com.

    How far along are you?

  4. Jasmine Julian says:

    I am desperately wanting a homebirth!! My last child was almost born in the car because the hospital is so far away… any idea’s on where to look for a midwife who would be willing? Thanks for your help. I too was under the impression that it was illegal here.

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